A former Black Rod said John Bercow once called him “an antisemite” as he reiterated bullying allegations denied by the retired Commons speaker.
Lieutenant General Leakey, an ex-Parliament official, made the claim about Bercow, who is releasing a tell-all autobiography this week, during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.
Bercow, who resigned after a decade in the speaker’s chair on October 31, was reportedly nominated for a peerage by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But Leakey called for the nomination to be rejected to avoid a “scandal that Parliament would struggle to live down” and repeated bullying claims made in 2018.
He told the broadcaster Bercow would “fly into a rage” and “be jumping up and down and bawling out, and shouting insults.” The former speaker, he said, “called me an antisemite once after being rather rude and insulting about my background, education and military career.”
Bercow vehemently denied the allegations, telling Sky News Leakey was “desperate to remain relevant”, saying: “he is in absolutely no position whatsoever to comment on my relations with my parliamentary colleagues, of which he is completely and utterly ignorant.”
Leakey hit back at Bercow, saying he “either doesn’t understand or can’t remember how the role of Black Rod operates.”
The shadow home secretary Diane Abbott waded into the row, calling Leakey’s claims “unlikely” in a since-deleted tweet. “He had been a lieutenant general who served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Bosnia,” she wrote, “but claims he was bullied (i.e. intimidated and coerced) by John Bercow. Unlikely.”